Demanding equal access to healthcare


Dear Friends,


Imagine the following scenario: Yoni and Roee, both 12 years old, are injured in a car accident and have to spend three months in a rehabilitation hospital so they can recuperate and go back to functioning reasonably. Yoni is from Kiryat Ono and Roee is from Kiryat Shmona. Is the fact that one of them lives in central Israel and the other all the way up north supposed to affect the accessibility and quality of their treatment? I’m sure you all agree that it shouldn’t. And yet, in 2016 in Israel, there is clear discrimination between residents of the north and south of Israel compared with those in the center, when it comes to access and quality of medical rehabilitation services they are entitled to through the basket of public health services. We filed a petition with the High Court of Justice recently in order to demand this situation be reformed.


The petition was filed by ACRI Attorney Reut Cohen, in cooperation with the relatives of those patients in need of rehabilitation, as well as the Citizen’s Forum for the Promotion of Health in the Galilee, the Forum in the South, Physicians for Human Rights and Bizchut – the Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities. The petition calls on the Minister of Health to put an end to geographic discrimination and to determine criteria that define a reasonable period of time, distance and quality for receiving medical rehabilitation services.


The statistics speak for themselves: In the south and the north of Israel, the number of beds per 1,000 people undergoing rehabilitative treatment is one fifth of the number of beds in the Tel Aviv area and half the national average. In the south and the north, there aren’t any beds for children in need of rehabilitation, and the accessibility and quality of the outpatient rehabilitation centers in these communities do not compare to the accessibility and quality of such facilities in central Israel. The absence of high quality, accessible and reasonably located rehabilitation services can lead to a situation in which patients are not undergoing rehabilitative treatment and therefore not able to resume the lifestyle they had before their injury. The other option is being hospitalized far away from their homes, which increases the costs for patients from the periphery and for their families, forcing them to travel long distances and impairing the rehabilitation process.


Galia Ganon, one of our petitioners, is a resident of Kiryat Gat. Her son Shai and daughter Doron were injured and hospitalized in a rehabilitation hospital in Sheba Medical Center because there was no other center that serves them in their area. She describes how the distance exacerbates the already traumatic situation that families are experiencing: “Doron’s hospitalization period lasted 10 months, I was by her side from the moment she woke up and until she went to sleep. Since we live in the south of the country, I had to sleep in a hotel next to the hospital. It was a trying, sad and lonely period in which I was on my own and far away from home most of the time.”


The shortage of rehabilitation services in the north and south of the country is not only a consequence of the lack of resources, but also of an unjust, discriminatory distribution of the existing resources. We demand the Minister of Health put an end to this discrimination and make sure people in all corners of the country get the same quality treatment as those in the center.




Sharon Abraham-Weiss
Executive Director
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel


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Categories: The Right to Equality, The Right to Health

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